Teacher Librarians – Responding to resistance towards Collaborative Teaching

Although the benefits of collaborative teaching approaches seem impossible to reject, there are still teachers who feel a need to resist and oppose any collaborative approach perhaps due to feeling the need to assert their own capabilities. This is something I have seen and experienced in quite a few schools.

From the literature and readings, and personal experience, it can be understood that leadership plays a significant role in the embracing and implementing of new ideas and initiatives into the school environment. Strong leadership is required to build and sustain a learning organisation, including the creation of positive conditions and opportunities at the school level (Cibulka, Coursey, Nakayama, Price, & Stewart, 2003, p. 1). The culture of learning within the school needs to enforce and embrace the continual professional development and self-reflection of its teachers. If the principal can support this mission, then the implementation of collaborative teaching can become easier to promote and accomplish. Strong principal support, is a major contributor to the success of fostering collaboration between teachers and teacher librarians (Haycock, 2007, & Montiel-Overall, 2008).

The teacher librarian as a leader in the school community, needs to be an advocate for collaboration. She/he needs to demonstrate leadership skills and expert knowledge, and attributes such as flexibility and the ability to compromise, respect and understanding (Haycock ,2007; Monteil-Overall, 2008, cited in Williamson, Archibald, & McGregor, 2010). Perhaps start by taking small steps with the teachers who resist, such as offering and sharing some valuable resources the teacher(s) may not know about, offer the use of the library to enhance their teaching and give support while the teacher is using these facilities/resources. This can provide opportunities for viewing the teaching styles of the teacher(s) and allow for the adaptation of your approach to support those styles.

Building a collaborative relationship can take time, network with these teachers and build them up towards collaboration by taking small steps. With each success, a new step can be introduced. A positive relationship will be a good foundation for openness and receptiveness to change.

Show the teachers and principal evidence that a collaborative approach works. Give examples of student achievement, show samples of the learning experiences that are rich in information literacy and supportive learning environment due to collaborative approaches. Produce models of results in situations where collaboration is working, both within the school, and from other schools.

 

Cibulka, J., Coursey, S., Nakayama, M., Price, J. & Stewart, S. (2003). Schools as learning organisations: A review of the literature. National College for School Leadership, UK. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://217.140.32.103/media/F7B/94/randd-engaged-cibulka.pdf

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://collaborate-inservice.wikispaces.com /file/view/Critical+Success+Factors.pdf

Montiel-Overall, P. (2008). Teacher and librarian collaboration: A qualitative study. Library and Information Science Research, 30(20), 145-155. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074081880800011X

Williamson, K., Archibald, A., & McGregor, J. (2010). Shared Vision: A Key to Successful Collaboration? School Libraries Worldwide, 16(2), 16-30. Retrieved 16 May, 2013 from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=14d65926-830b-436b-8e8e-fc03916a59a8%40sessionmgr112&vid=2&hid=127

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ETL401: Blog Task 3 – Is information literacy more than a set of a skills?

Is information literacy more than a set of skills that students are expected to learn?

Looking at the vast definitions of information literacy it can be seen how it could be assumed that information literacy is just about the mastery of skills. Broad definitions often reflect that information literacy incorporates confidence in the use of information and communications technology (Bundy, 2004), or is a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyse, and use information (American Library Association, 2013).

Of course the acquisition of these skills is vital to becoming information literate, and they are the building blocks of information literacy, but further reading and understanding supports the fact the information literacy is far more than just a set of skills.

As a teacher librarian, part of our role is developing within students the skills to be information-literate, to be able to access the vast quantities of information we collect for them, to be able to process and understand the knowledge we provide for them, to be able to access and use the ICT equipment such as a computer, or the internet to find further information, and to be able to assess research and information for validity and worth. However, this teaching of skills does not encompass all of what is means to be information literate. Rather, it is the acknowledgement that information literacy is a transformational process within which students need to “find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes” (Abilock, 2004) and further develop higher-order thinking skills in order to engage in lifelong learning. So although the skills of information literacy are learned with the school environment, the knowledge and abilities gained are transferred further than the classroom and into the everyday life of living within an information and technological society.

Lloyd, Lipu, and Kennan (2010) discuss the ability of information literacy to ‘empower people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals’ and further discuss how being information literate is directly related to social inclusion within society (p. 7). This further supports the idea that information literacy is more than just a set of skills, rather a process that enables students to become functional, included, and contributing members of society.

Practically, we as teacher librarians need to be providing opportunities for students to be transforming their learning into lifelong learning. Giving them opportunities to engage in information literate practices that will be applicable and significant to the outside world. Can our students ‘just google it’ when they are out and about and looking to solve a simple problem, or answer a simple question? Can they assess the answers and information they receive for usefulness, relevance and validity? Can they produce their own information and contribute to online websites, blogs, and forums, and effectively convey their information and points of view? Information literacy incorporates the skills that will provide our students with opportunities, but it is through the transformational teaching of the skills, and the learning experiences that provide guided exploration in using these skills, that we are able to prepare our students to be active participants in a society dependent upon lifelong learning.

 

Abilock, D. (2007). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodle Tools. Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/ 1over/infolit1.html

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. (2nd ed). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf

Lloyd, A., Lipu, S., & Kennan, M.A. (2010). On becoming citizens:  examining social inclusion from an information perspective. Australian Academic and Research Libraries 41(1). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=990498153481889;res=IELHSS

Teacher Librarians: Putting forward clear and palatable priorities.

It is important for the Teacher Librarian as a leader within the school community to effectively communicate his/her priorities. As a part of our role, it is crucial for TLs to be constantly highlighting and reinforcing the connection between school libraries and student achievement, the work we do that is a vital contribution to student learning success, and the role we perform behind the scenes in creating a rich learning environment full of wonderful resources that support the curriculum and enhance the school environment. In performing these duties our role encompasses a certain amount of advocacy. We are educating our colleagues and the greater school community in the importance of our presence and the existence of the library.

This requires a certain amount of planning and diplomacy in putting forward our priorities and being able to successfully gain what we require.

So, how can Teacher Librarians make our priorities both clear and palatable to the school community?

–          To begin with, TLs should be clear of their role and their vision for the direction and expectations they have planned for the school library. These should be portrayed and demonstrated constantly by the TL, and as a result, the TL’s priorities will be well known to the school community.

–          Become an advocate for your school library at staff meetings. Put forward items on the agenda to be discussed, open the floor for teachers, support staff, coordinators, and principal(s) to put forward their needs and expectations of the services the library and TL provides. This inclusion and collaboration will allow priorities and changes to be accepted more positively than decisions made without consideration of colleague points of view.

–          Initiate an open line of communication; be it through email, online, suggestion slip, or verbal, where colleagues are able to put forward ideas/suggestions and gain knowledge of what is happening in the library. Decisions and priorities made with reflection upon the communications of others allows the school community to see the transparency of the TL and this will enable the acceptance of these decisions.

–          Consider the creation of a ‘Friends of the Library’ group which can be similar to the P&C group but focuses upon the needs of the library and works towards increasing the positive image of the library within the school community.

–          Create a School Library Charter of which includes the assessed needs and expectations of the school community and recognises and states how the school library will meet these.

–          Keep school library website up to date with accomplishments and goals that have been met, as well as explanation of the future direction the library is taking. Create Term/Yearly reports upon what has been accomplished by teaching and learning within the library, as well as any significant library developments.

Todd (2003) put forward that ‘when teachers and school librarians work together, principals and the school board see firsthand evidence of your value. And when teachers see that you make a difference in student learning, they become your biggest advocates.’ I believe that my strategies support this statement, that the collaboration in the initial stage of prioritising can create more positive outcomes in the way the TL’s priorities are accepted.

 

References

Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 28 March 2013 from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html

 

 

ETL401 Blog Task One: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in implementing Guided Inquiry.

In preparing students for lifelong learning in the rapidly developing information environment, teacher librarians need to be constantly searching for ways to engage our students in 21st century learning. Guided Inquiry is ‘a way of learning that meets the many requirements of the curriculum through engaging, motivating and challenging learning’ (Kuhlthau, 2007, p3). In order to successfully implement guided inquiry learning, the teacher librarian and teachers must work collaboratively to appropriately scaffold learning for their students.  This method of learning provides opportunity to ‘tailor learning experiences and opportunities, resources and processes to the needs and abilities of each student’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009) and according to curriculum outcomes.

If we specifically focus upon the role of the teacher librarian in practice with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry approach, we acknowledge the skills that a teacher librarian has within both teaching and information services. The teacher librarian’s role starts with the understanding of the curriculum outcomes and knowledge of the values that the students are required to take away from the Guided Inquiry learning.

The teacher librarian then begins the planning of lessons (perhaps again in collaboration with the teacher) and starts upon resourcing the learning experiences, selecting and utilising a variety of resources that are based on information literacy and are ‘combined with the rich resources of the school library and the wider community in a collaborative and supportive learning environment’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009). This is where the value of the school library as a digital media infused learning environment and a ‘site of student learning, rather than of traditional scholarship’ becomes evident (Lee, 2012, p6).

Kuhlthau (2007, p. 32–33) discusses the importance of teacher librarians creating three separate learning environments called spaces when planning for Guided Inquiry learning. The first space, utilises students’ local and cultural knowledge, including Web2.0. The second space incorporates the school curriculum – the goals and learning outcomes of what is being taught. Students then engage in learning and research that creates the third space, where students use out of school knowledge to make sense of the curriculum. This enables students to engage in discovery, inquiry, thinking, and metacognition.

The teacher librarian creates significant teaching and learning experiences that develop deep knowledge, and skills that are relevant for use in the outside world. Through expert knowledge in the curriculum and its resourcing, the teacher librarian is able to support and guide their students through their learning encouraging higher order thinking and sustain and develop knowledge in the information search process which ‘allows students to become aware of their own processes and allows teachers and teacher librarians to frame the task, and to bring together learning in a meaningful way,’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009).

 

 

References

ALIA/ASLA. (2009). Policy on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Australian Library and Information Association. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://alianet.alia.org.au/policies/guided.inquiry.html

Kuhlthau, C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved 21 March 2013 from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/Portals/0/ELITS%20website%20Homepage/IASL%202009/KN- Kuhlthau%5B1%5D.pdf

Lee, Virginia S. (2012). Inquiry-Guided Learning: New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p= 861722

The Role Of A Teacher Librarian – What do we do?

When asked to consider what sort of a role I can see myself fulfilling as a Teacher Librarian I had a difficult time refining my response. Upon creating my list I found that we Teacher Librarians embody so many skills and have many expectations placed upon us regarding our role, our duties, our knowledge. The expectations can differ from person to person, professional to professional. A parent defines Teacher Librarians one way, a Principal another, and each places emphasis upon differing aspects of our roles that they see as more important.

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(We don’t just do loans and catalogue searches, you know!)

Casting aside the expectations of others I can put forward the Teacher Librarian I wish to be.

RoleOfTL

Herring (2007) stated that the ‘role of the Teacher Librarian is a multi-faceted one’ (pg 5) and in completing my information graphic on the role I see myself fulfilling, I know why!

Within my teaching career so far, I have had contrasting views of how Principals perceive the role of the TL. Within a Catholic School in NSW, I saw a Teacher Librarian who was well supported by the Principal and her colleagues. RFF time was taken by the Assistant Principal so the TL was able to teach and plan collaboratively with her colleague teachers. Ample time was given for planning, assessing, and reporting; and library time was recognised as a time for rich learning. In contrast to this, at a school I worked at in QLD, they did not employ a Teacher Librarian at all. Instead, each class teacher would take their class to the library for borrowing and perhaps a story. The library was not used as a place for learning. There was nobody to advocate for the importance of the library. The Principal did not see this as detrimental to the school and funding was spent elsewhere.

In order to change the perceptions of those who do not understand the important role a Teacher Librarian performs, I suggest that we:

–     Continually promote the library as a rich teaching/learning space. Share resources with colleague teachers, demonstrate in your teaching and lessons how the library is a quality learning environment where students are able to approach learning in ways that they are unable to in the classrooms.

–     Constantly engage within Professional Development. Keep well-informed of advancements in your field and revolutionise the school library to keep up to date with these changes. Demonstrate teaching and learning experiences, and the school library itself, on the school website. This will give the whole school community, and the broader community, the opportunity to see the value of the work Teacher Librarians do.

 

References:

Australian Schools Library Association (2012). Policy: Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 19 March 2013 from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto. In School Library Journal. Retrieved 19 March, 2013 from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Searching Academic Databases – Getting Back Into It!

I have grown using computers. From the humble days of Kindergarten, writing ‘I love my white dog’ upon a black screen with green writing. One or two fingers slowly poking at the keyboard.

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(How cool I felt in Kinder when it was my turn to use the Computer!)

Through to completing my secondary studies and tertiary qualifications, where  I was expected to complete database research as a requirement to pass, let alone to find learned findings amongst journal articles to evidence my point of view.

Now as I am requested to do so again in my Post Graduate studies, I feel as though I have a slight advantage. My history as a database user, as well as my current position in which I have to endorse and support the use of eResearch databases, will help me as I continue to develop as a lifelong learner.

The development of databases such as Primo and EBSCO, in my opinion, have been well developed to be quite user friendly. When reading my module notes on database use, I guess I was expecting there to be some dramatic change to this sort of research in my 3 year absence from  studying. Yet, I still find them easy to manipulate on my return. So the general layout and functions have been well thought out for the student to become easily familiar with.

The feature I find most useful is selecting the criteria to specify the search for full-text articles. There have been so many times where I have typed in my search topic, awaited results, become excited about a couple of the titles of the journals in the search results, and then realised they are unavailable as full text – or even that they are only available when paid for! This can be quite frustrating!

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Now I am off to create some new folders for my research findings!

Investigating the implications of the changing information and library landscape.

Stephen Fry stated aptly that ‘books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators,’ and I concur with this statement.

The changing information and library landscape has brought upon implications such as the decreasing of print collections, declining of reference enquiries, diminishing funding and grants (or increased competitiveness for these), and changes in the use of libraries and services provided.

Audio books, eAudio, eResearch/databases, eBooks, were all considered at one point to be a threat to the existence of the library and Librarian. And yet here we are.

The development of open-access information and the digital availability of literature and academic works has also been considered to have a great impact upon the library as a provider of information. Will the free and wide availability of easily accessible material make our libraries and Librarians obsolete? Will the rapid advancement of technology end the existence of libraries and Librarians? I tend to disagree.

Libraries are constantly changing their image. Gone are the days where libraries were just wall to wall book shelves. They have become a public space. They are consistently moving with the times. With the invention of each new medium, libraries have adapted. Frey supports this statement discussing the creation of culture-based libraries that are always ‘assessing priorities and providing resources to support the things deemed most important.’

As libraries continue to adapt, so too do Librarians and Teacher Librarians. Earnshaw and Vince stated that ‘as the role of librarians as the gatekeepers of externally-published information resources begins to shrink, their role as the guardians of internally-produced information resources has the potential to expand’ (2008). Librarians provide a wide range of services to a diverse demographic. We have the professional skills associated with the management, selection, and collection of information. We exist to help our patrons.

As technology will continue to evolve, so will Teacher Librarians, Librarians, and Libraries. I like to believe that the continual change represents and provides an opportunity to extend our professional skills into new areas of possibilities and capabilities.

References
Earnshaw, Rae A., & Vince, John A. (2008) Digital Convergence: Libraries of the Future. London:Springer-Verlag.

Frey, T. (n.d) The future of Libraries : Beginning the Great Transformation. Retrieved from http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/